Mosin Nagant Beginner’s Guide

| Last Updated: September 21, 2021

Did you know that the term ‘Mosin-Nagant’ is not the correct name of one of the most mass-produced rifles of all time?

It was a term promulgated by the western media following the legal jostling for ownership rights.

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That’s right, the 3-line rifle, Model 1891, or what we dearly call it, the Mosin Nagant has an interesting piece of history attached to it. Which we shall pursue deeply further in this article.

Table of Contents

Mosin Nagant Overview

Taking Advantage of the Mosin Nagant

What the Mosin Nagant Does Best

Further Reading About Mosin Nagant

Where the Mosin Nagant Falls Short

Conclusion

An Overview of the Mosin Nagant

The late nineteenth century wasn’t going well for the Russian military. While most superpowers of the world had now switched to more modern rifles and cartridges, the Russian military was still stuck with Berdan primer rifles. For which they paid a hefty price in terms of losses during the Russo-Ottoman war of 1877-1888. 

These humiliating circumstances consequently led to the realization that the Russians wanted a better rifle. That can match up with the fast rate of fire, muzzle velocity, and range of modern rifles. 

Finally, in the year 1889, three rifle designs were presented before the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Empire.

A .30 caliber (a.k.a 3-line in Russian metrology) by Captain Sergei Ivanovich Mosin, a .35 caliber (a.k.a 3.5-line in Russian metrology) by the Belgian designer Léon Nagant and a .30 caliber by Captain Zioniev. 

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Finally, Mosin won the race and his design was ordered into mass production. But the original design of Captain Mosin was too complicated for disassembly. So the military designers further refined it by adding some components from Nagant’s rifle. Namely, attaching the magazine spring to the base plate and adding the ‘interrupter’ to prevent double feeding. 

This mix-up further ensued into a legal brawl between  Léon Nagant and the Russian Military considering the prize money for the winning design Giving the rifle its present name in the Western market. 

Over the course of its production from 1891-1973, over 37 million of these rifles were produced. Surprisingly almost a million of those rifles were produced in the United States by Remington and the New England Westinghouse Company. Almost 280,000 of those ended up being purchased by the U.S Military.

The M1891 fires the 7.62x54r cartridge and has an effective range of more than 1,000 yards with appropriate optics. Due to its long service life, this rifle has many variants. The most prominent of them being the Model 1891 Infantry rifle, Dragoon rifle, Model 1891/30, and Model 1891/59 carbine. Further including Finnish versions of this rifle, the M/91, and M/27. 

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The M1891 carries a lot of legacy with it. Both in the military and civilian perspective. It is an amazingly accurate rifle with a very robust and reliable build. Something that’s pretty common with former Soviet-era weapons. 

What the Mosin Nagant Does Best

Taking a cumulative view, the Mosin Nagant has been an absolute ‘enemy killer’ on the battlefield. Having served as the service rifle for the Soviet Russian and Finnish armies for decades and through the Great Wars and other conflicts. The Mosin Nagant is a proven combat rifle of its time. 

In fact, the most successful sniper of all time, Simo Hayha, used an M28/30 with iron sights. A Finnish version of the Mosin Nagant. Delivering a total of 505 kills for the legend. 

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The M1891 was designed for long range, some accuracy, and ruggedness. It is an extremely rugged rifle. Which is quite obvious given the harsh Russian climatic extremities it was required to handle. It was a general issue rifle for the average Soviet soldier, and also a very popular sniper rifle. Even among some German ranks who preferred it over their Kar98k under some circumstances. 

This rifle fires the 7.62x54r cartridge, which is a long rifle cartridge and capable of traveling well beyond 1,000 yards. Plus, an amazing punching power. This round is still in service with the Russian military for some of their sniper rifles and light machine guns. I think this fact already speaks highly about the potential of this caliber. 

The Mosin-Nagant has been a reliable hunting rifle for decades now. With a hard-hitting caliber capable of bringing down almost any game animal roaming North America. The influx of a lot of low-priced mil-surp rifles made it extremely popular among the masses. It is an inexpensive, reliable, and fairly accurate rifle that can help with foraging meat and also fend off intruders on a farm.

Where the Mosin Nagant Falls Short

With a design more than a century old, and with no modifications being made to it. It is certain that the Mosin Nagant is not suitable for today’s modern battlefield. Keeping combat out of context, let us also understand a few areas where this legendary rifle falls short. 

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The first thing that pesters many users is the size of an original M1891 rifle. A standard M91/30 Mosin Nagant rifle stands at an overall length of 48 inches with a 28.75-inch barrel. The shortest of these, the carbine versions measure around 40 inches. The rifle weighs about eight pounds on average. So it is not a viable candidate for being a mountain rifle. 

The next thing to consider is the recoil of a 7.62x54R cartridge. Which can be compared to that of a .30-06 Springfield. Although I do not consider the recoil a real problem with this rifle. The fact is that it certainly casts an impact on the preference of people. Lovers are gonna love it anyway, but recoil-sensitive shooters will certainly steer away. 

Another very peculiar aspect of this rifle is its difficulty in accepting scopes. The M1891 rifle was developed at a time when rifle scopes were pretty uncommon. Especially for the average soldier. Due to its unique bolt tilt and design, the Mosin Nagant uses an off-set style scope mount. Additionally, the holes have to be drilled and tapped on the receiver in most cases. 

Being a relatively old design, this rifle will not match tactical or customizability standards in its original form. So you’ll definitely have to take the help of a qualified gunsmith. 

The last thing to look out for as a shortcoming on the Mosin Nagant is its trigger. The original mil-surp versions can have a sloppy trigger with a pull weight as high as 12 pounds.

How to Take Advantage of the Mosin Nagant

The Mosin Nagant may be an old design. But it can certainly compete with modern rifles in terms of performance. To a limited extent maybe, but it will give you the right accessories and tune up its performance. 

When buying a Mosin Nagant, you’ll have to live with a birch, walnut, or oak stock. Pertaining to the current condition of the stock, it may or may not require extensive maintenance and cleaning. But if it is a wooden stock, it will definitely require some attention. You may also want to get a good carry case if you travel often with your rifle. Hence, a great option will be to start with the stock first. Add a good Mosin Nagant aftermarket stock, and probably get the action bedded for better harmonics. 

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The next thing to focus upon is adding a good scope mount for your M1891. This may be a hectic or simple task, depending upon whether your action has pre-drilled and tapped holes in it. If you are going for a Picatinny rail, make sure you choose an appropriate rifle scope with long eye relief. 

The Mosin Nagant is a long range rifle and to utilize its maximum potential. A good rifle scope is essential. As far as the choice of a scope is concerned, a 3-9x or 4-12x scope will do great for hunting and some long range practice. 

Adding a good muzzle brake will significantly dampen the recoil of this rifle. Which in fact it is notorious for. You may also choose a hybrid compensator to curb that muzzle rise as well. But before you do that, it is also extremely imperative that you choose the right ammunition for your Mosin Nagant

From non-corrosive primers to match-grade bullets and even milsurp ammo. There’s a ton of options out there for the 7.62x54R.

Further Reading on Mosin Nagant

Since its development in the year 1891, 130 years have passed. But the Mosin Nagant is still going strong with almost no signs of declining in terms of popularity in the coming years. Being an old and proven battle rifle, the Mosin Nagant has a lot of history associated with it. 

Since the cartridge it was chambered for, the 7.62x54R is still in service with many militaries around the world. It will be a good idea to compare it with other rifles of its class and time. Helping you find the most appropriate rifle for hunting and range sessions. 

The Mosin Nagant is undoubtedly a great rifle for hunting. But the choice of ammunition and other supporting accessories plays a vital role in this. 

Talking about ammo, the 7.62x54R can be easily availed in a variety of variations. If you are a regular reloader of ammunition, you should consider reading further into that aspect as well. Once you get your hands on a Mosin Nagant and start liking it, you are very likely to spew hundreds or rounds in a single session. 

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On a side note, make sure you properly understand the disassembly of the Mosin Nagant. Especially if you plan on cleaning it regularly without the help of a gunsmith. The trigger mechanism can be a tad complex to understand.

Conclusion

The Mosin Nagant is an ultra-reliable and proven battle rifle that was built as an answer to the requirement of modern firearms.

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Chambered in the venerable 7.62x54R cartridge, it has amazing long range capabilities for a sniper rifle. While also packing ample punch to bring down any animal walking this planet.



Ankit Kumar is an engineer turned writer who specializes in topics related to firearms, gun safety and weapon tech. His passion towards enrolling in the Army drifted his interest towards light and heavy firearms. He’s a qualified competitive air rifle shooter and an avid nature lover. His other areas of expertise include survival, prepping and firearms/ammo storage. When he’s not writing, he’s either learning a new skill, trekking or enjoying a long drive.